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E-publishing allows short stories to be published as their own, stand-alone products. Sticks, Stones is a very short example.

 

We are introduced to Marianne, a travel agent who pressure-sells holidays to families visiting travel fairs. Broadly, she likes her job; she has friends who are just about close enough for her needs; she has a family and knows her children's friends and their families. It's not an exciting life - a counterpoint to the holidays she sells - but it works for her.

 

The story hinges around her collecting her son Jack and his friends from football and seeing him taunting a girl with Downs Syndrome. It's confronting; it makes Marianne ask herself whether she even knows her son. Like any parent, she starts to ask herself why she bothers, whether she actually hates her son. 

 

Marianne is a real person living in Melbourne's bland northern suburbs. She is perfectly created - right down to little details such as the car stereo jammed permanently on Gold FM (where our would be if I had my way). She shares thoughts and sentiments that most parents will have encountered but never dared to voice. That makes this story quite reassuring.

 

Credit is due to Allen and Unwin for publishing this story - one of five short stories by Australia's leading contemporary writers. I hope the project was as enjoyable for the writers as it was for the readers.

 

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